Monday, December 21, 2015

How Our Elf Taught Me the True Magic of Christmas

This year, we adopted our first Elf on the Shelf. While I'll admit I gravitate toward traditions that illuminate the true meaning of Christmas, my six-year-old was adorably relentless in his request.

It has been captivating to see him bolt out of bed every morning to find the elf. And our elf, "Joe" (after Joseph), has been busy at our house...

He has stolen chocolate from the pantry. We caught him red-handed.

He has mounted himself on a stuffed reindeer, posed as an ornament on the tree, and even...wrapped the toilet!

I love the playfulness the elf inspires as we all get swept up in the magic of Christmas. I don't want to deny my children the wonder I experienced as a child.

One day, however, my younger son was playing near the Elf on the Shelf and his hand accidentally touched his hat. He quickly reported it to his brother, who was almost in tears. The accompanying elf book clearly states that touching the elf will result in him losing his magic. The incident matriculated this unprompted, handwritten note:

Needless to say, the elf didn't lose his "magic." But it got me thinking about the special gift we have in Jesus.

The life of Jesus is one story that will never lose its magic. It has captivated hearts for centuries. The blood of Jesus can wash us clean and drive us unfettered into the arms of our Creator, who loves us desperately - and that's nothing short of miraculous. The truth of the Christmas story is more powerful that any tradition we can create, as it is the bedrock of the season - and our lives.

That's why while we engage in traditions that bring wonder and silliness into our house, we also gather to read the Christmas story from the Bible right after the tree has been decorated. We hear about what God has done to the glow of soft lights, grounding the tree in our Greatest Gift.

That's why as the children are busy with holiday crafts and concerts, I go into the classroom and share the Christian meaning of the season. I explain the legend of the candy cane. I read stories like Goodnight, Manger. I want to engage them in fresh ways around the age-old story.

My younger son performed in his last preschool Christmas pageant this year. He was a wiseman, and as he gathered around baby Jesus, his line was, "Isn't he wonderful?" When he first started practicing his line, his intonation was flat. We repeated it over and over in order to bring meaning and excitement to the word "wonderful." When the day of the pageant came, he said it perfectly. Even better, the audience believed it.

I wish each of you the joy, wonder, and true MAGIC of the season. Merry Christmas!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like my article Reclaiming Christmas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Surprising Lesson the Night I Broke Routine

I am delighted to share a story on Power of Moms this week that I wrote a couple of years ago. It's one I continue to go back to for a timeless reminder, as it's so easy to rush through the everyday magic of our lives raising children...
broke routine

Late in the day with two little boys can be, well, hard. As much as I enjoy the giggles at dinnertime and the plunges underwater at bath time, when they’re ready to put on their PJs, I’m tired. Yet that’s exactly when they’re winding up.
If you’re like me, you’re a parent who is used to managing schedules. I know how many minutes it takes for my boys to do any part of their daily routine. I know exactly when I need to get up in the morning to get every task done before we need to get out the door. (Translation: I can only manipulate the snooze button so far.) So when we get to the PJ stage at night, I know exactly how long it takes before I turn off their lights and can head downstairs.  But recently, when we get to the PJ stage, my two-year-old has discovered the fact that he has a CD player in his room. His little fingers find and press just the right buttons and knobs to not only start the music, but to turn it up full blast. He particularly loves his new Justin Robert’s CD entitled “Recess.” The first song on the album shares the same title and includes voices from rowdy kids in school ready to go outside.  On top of that, there’s a bold electric guitar riff and snappy lyrics—everything that makes a two-year-old boy excited.
When he first played the music, I was tempted to turn it off quickly and re-initiate a more soothing bedtime tenor. But there was something about his strut that kept me from doing it. He was proud. He was initiating his own dance party. He galloped around his rug with his just-learning-how-to-do-it legs, stopped to jump up and down, and then attempted a spin (which he did—almost). It was too cute.
“Mommy, come dance with me!” he said. I picked him up, and we started spinning together. We spun and spun until we got dizzy; I put him down and we laughed and laughed.  
And that’s when the Justin Robert’s song got quieter and I heard him sing, “There’s more beauty in this world than we could guess, oh yes, it’s recess, oh yes, it’s recess…”
It hit me that I, too, was experiencing a beautiful moment in this world. My son knows I love him. But right then and there, I was showing him that I enjoy him. I was in a moment that captured what is so endearing about his age. And I was allowing myself to experience it, savor it, and treasure just how he expressed it in his own way...
To read the rest of this post, please join me on Power of Moms. It's a fantastic site about making deliberate choices as we mother. Every Sunday they have a spiritual focus too!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TODAY Show Gratefulness Segment


This week my "post" is a TODAY Show Parenting Team segment that just aired this morning. While they've featured a blog idea of mine on air, this is my first time appearing! Please join me in watching and sharing this important message about nurturing a thankful heart in our children. What a special gift to give them this season - and for life! Scroll down to view or watch via this link:

Grateful for your support!

TODAY Video Clip